Ring – Art Deco Octagonal Wedding Band
An Art Deco¹ style wedding band² with an octagonal outline; eight platinum³-coloured edges with a diagonally engraved knurled zig-zag pattern. Circa 1920-1930s.
Measuring: 2.25mm in width by (alternating depth) 0.90mm to 1.60mm in depth.
Unhallmarked: tested and valued as 950 platinum.
Finger size: N.
Condition: very good.
¹. Art Deco is “a decorative style that originated in France in the 1920s and 1930s in a protest against the art nouveau style and later art movements, and that was popularised in the United States where it continued until the 1960s and 1970s. The style emphasised abstract designs and geometric patterns. The name is derived from 'Le Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes' held in Paris in 1925 (Harold Newman, ‘An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewellery’, 1981).
². Tracing the origins and development of so common an ornament is fascinating and enlightening. The contemporary method of wearing a ‘wedding band’ on the fourth finger is recorded in the writings of a fifth century Roman, or early Byzantine philosopher, as described by the twentieth century by American author Mr George Frederick Kunz. “The wearing of rings as ornaments for the hand requires no explanation in view of the innate love of adornments shown from the very earliest periods of human history. However, apart from this merely ornamental use, rings were applied to many special uses and were worn for many definite purposes, some of which are so important to merit extended notice. The customer of placing the betrothal or wedding ring upon the fourth finger seems undoubtably to owe its origin to the fancy that a special nerve, or vein, ran directly from this finger to the heart. Macrobius, in his Saturnalia, alludes to the belief in the following words; ‘because of this nerve, the newly betrothed places the ring on this finger of his spouse, as though it were a representation of the heart’. Macrobius asserts that he derived his information from and Egyptian priest. It has been conjectured that this was not the real source of the custom, but that in the church service it was usual for the Christian priest to touch three fingers successively with the ring while saying; ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost’, and then to place it upon the last finger touched. We know that this was the usage in the bestowal or episcopal rings, and later with wedding rings, but the express statement cited from the pagan writer Macrobius shows that in the early marriage or betrothal ceremony this customer must have had an entirely different origin” (George Frederick Kunz, ‘Rings for the Finger’, 1917).
³. Many influences contributed to Art Deco, including the geometry and abstraction of the Cubist painters and the linear forms of the Vienna Succession. Technology had a powerful influence, with simpler angular and cylindrical shapes combined, often overlapping or assembled in a way that resembled parts of a machine. Bold forms, polished surfaces of blocks of gemstones replaced subtle detailing and, in keeping with the functional approach, surface decoration was minimal. Rings in the 1920s might be set with a large cabochon stone, often surrounded by small brilliance by the recently introduced rectangular baguette diamond. Platinum was chosen for wedding rings, frequently worn with a platinum and diamond solitaire engagement ring” (Clare Phillips, ‘Jewelry From Antiquity to the Present, 1996).